Bottom line first: Ever since the Benghazi attack, President Obama and his advisers have lied through their teeth to avoid awakening the slumbering American electorate. They have been assisted throughout by a media establishment intent on supporting the president’s re-election while maintaining its usual charade of objectivity — the great oxymoron of our time.
My career encompassed that oxymoron as well as an even earlier one, military intelligence. So I watched in amazement as only the Fox News Channel seemed intent on unraveling an extraordinarily thin cover story. A flash-mob that got out of hand over a provocative YouTube video? But with mortars and automatic weapons, a coordinated assault that killed an American ambassador and three bodyguards? I felt like Carrie Mathison, the Claire Danes character in the Showtime series “Homeland,” constantly asking “Are you serious?” Yet President Obama, from the Rose Garden to the United Nations rostrum, kept repeating the flash-mob story until the second cover story was trotted out: Our intelligence community was working diligently to uncover the truth and go after attackers — a thrilling re-run of “Osama and the Seals,” coming soon to a theater near you!
But this week I received subtle warnings from old friends still in that beleaguered intelligence community. They expressed great irritation with Fox News, undoubtedly because of political motivations. But they were most offended by the idea that the spooks had done nothing. They suggested that the attack on Benghazi was like Mogadishu, the epic Somali battle that left a hundred American Rangers killed or wounded. They warned darkly of some “push-back” against the version of events gradually emerging from determined Fox reporters like Catherine Herridge.
Well, today that push-back surfaced as The New York Times and other papers reported background briefings from un-named C.I.A. officials. As Eric Schmitt wrote, “Thursday’s briefing for reporters was intended to refute reports, including one by Fox News last Friday, that the C.I.A.’s chain of command had blocked the officers on the ground from responding to the mission’s calls for help.” The New York Times account was not a headline — appearing on page 4. Neither its reporter not those anonymous C.I.A. officials used the word “inoperative,” as the Nixon White House used to do when Watergate cover stories were unraveling.
Yet in Benghazi-gate as well as Watergate, earlier lies were shed as smoothly as snakeskins. So the C.I.A. knew all along that it was a terrorist attack and not a flash-mob? Okay, then how do you explain the words of the president, his U.N. ambassador and his secretary of state — all endlessly repeated with supporting theatrics? If high officials from the Pentagon, the State Department and the West Wing knew the truth — that this was actually 9/11.2 — then how do you explain either of the administration’s mutually inconsistent cover stories? And why was the U.S. four-star general responsible for North Africa suddenly and mysteriously relieved of command after Benghazi?
Actually, you cannot explain any of these things unless you also account for the hear-see-report-no-evil approach of the media establishment. The Obama administration knew it could count on a friendly media that is loath to expose anything that might undermine its preferred foreign policy narrative. After Benghazi, the administration was understandably confident of running out the clock until the election, stonewalling legislative inquiries and sequestering those few media outlets actually trying to probe the Libya story.
But you have to go back even farther to appreciate the depths of White House chicanery. Remember this spring, when The New York Times published a headline-grabbing story about the Stuxnet virus? It portrayed a super-cool President Obama as the new James Bond, taking down an Iranian nuclear centrifuge by using ingenious, high-tech methods certain to endear him to his base. By the way, were any of the presumed West Wing leakers ever identified and held accountable?
While we’re at it, there are some even earlier dots. As Daily Caller readers will remember, that same New York Times published an “expose” just in time for the 2008 presidential campaign accusing TV military analysts, including me, of influence-peddling, selling our privileged insider access for private gain.
It took three years, four federal investigations and almost $3 million of taxpayer funds before the New York Times report was discredited. But by then, one of those who applauded the New York Times story and demanded those investigations had been appointed secretary of state while another had been elected president. Which, of course, was the objective all along.
Lying is what these people and their media allies do. And so far it has worked to perfection.
Colonel (Ret.) Ken Allard rose from draftee to Dean of the National War College. A former military analyst for NBC News, he is a prolific writer on national security issues.